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BellSouth Youth Institute

Featuring the BellSouth Youth Ensembles - a unique opportunity for some of Florida's top high school musicians.

The Festival and the LSO have teamed up to provide mentoring and educational workshops to Florida's top high school musicians.

The Festival Institute is funded by BellSouth and in partnership with Stetson University. Intense training is provided to 23 of the state's top high school musicians. Students in grades 9 through 11 who have participated in the Florida All-State Band or Orchestra programs are invited through a selective process to apply to the Institute.

Participants spend seven days being mentored by career musicians from the LSO, the LSO's Animateur, Richard McNicol and professors at Stetson University's School of Music.

After a week of rehearsals and training sessions, BSYE participants are divided into two string, two woodwind and one brass ensemble. Throughout the Festival, ensembles perform concerts at Elizabeth Hall at Stetson University in DeLand, John Knox Village in Orange City and Barnes and Noble Booksellers. Then, as part of the LSO Family Concert, the LSO invites the BSYE to perform with them at Peabody Auditorium under the direction of McNicol.

History of the Institute

With each visit made to Daytona Beach since 1966, the LSO has focused much of its energy on ensuring area youth are exposed to the culture and beauty of classical music. Much of this is done through the BellSouth Youth Institute - a forum where youth can develop an appreciation of, and life-long interest in the arts.

In 1991, BellSouth (then called Southern Bell) became chief sponsor of the Festival's education program. Young people and teachers from all over Florida were invited to many Festival events. In 1993, BellSouth formed the BellSouth Youth Institute and the BellSouth Youth Ensembles (BSYE).

During each biennial visit by the LSO, select band and orchestra students are given an opportunity to participate in the Institute's week-long-workshop. LSO members, the orchestra's Animateur, Richard McNicol, and Stetson University School of Music faculty coach participants.

Pairing aspiring music students with members of an International Orchestra motivated development of the BellSouth Youth Institute, said Joe Petrock, 1997 Festival chairman.

"Our communities continuously struggle with how to motivate our young people," Petrock said. "The best way to help them grow into the leaders of tomorrow is to help foster their talents today."

The Institute workshops provide students a place to develop their musical skills, foster self-esteem, explore career development, build friendships and learn from their peers. "Maybe not all of these students will go on to play in professional orchestras, but this experience will enrich their lives well beyond the bounds of the one-week-program," McNicol said.

"These young people have an opportunity to be mentored by career musicians and learn first hand what is involved in working for one of the world's most prestigious orchestras," said Earl Williams, Institute Administrator.

Williams has served as BSYE Administrator since 1991. He is a "graduate" of the Festival's first educational program in 1966 and says program participants become its biggest promoters.

"They realize the wonderful educational and cultural experiences gained through this and can't wait for the next opportunity to get involved," Williams said.

The support provided by BellSouth, Stetson University and the Festival allows students to attend the institute and pursue their music at no cost.

Brad Leja, Festival Outreach and Education Coordinator said, "We provide aspiring musicians an entire week to learn from some of the best in the field. That's what the Festival Institute is all about."


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